What Is CRISPR Gene Editing?

  • By Ari Daniel
  • Posted 08.11.17
  • NOVA

Scientists have a new tool to edit genes in human cells to repair mutations. What is it?

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Running Time: 01:24

Transcript

Onscreen: Human gene editing is here, and scientists have a new tool that makes it easy.

It's called CRISPR—a mini sharpshooting assassin.

CRISPR is made of two parts: A piece of RNA that acts as a guidance system and an enzyme.

Inside a cell nucleus, CRISPR's guidance system hunts for a specific DNA sequence, like a problematic gene.

When CRISPR finds its target (a section of DNA that matches the guide RNA), CRISPR clamps onto that DNA and slices it.

When the cell tries to repair the damage, it uses an engineered, healthy part of the gene to fix it. 

This editing tool isn't perfect yet. But it is powerful. So now is the time to ask—when and how should it be used?

Credits

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Digital Producer
Ari Daniel
Editorial Review
Julia Cort & Tim De Chant
Special Thanks
C. Dustin Rubinstein
Director, Genome Editing and Animal Models Facility
University of Wisconsin Madison
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2017

MEDIA CREDITS

Animations
The McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Music
APM
freesound.org

POSTER IMAGE

(main image: CRISPR and DNA)
The McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT

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